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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 150 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.
|1) The experience cannot reasonably be explained by chance factors.|
|2) The experience cannot reasonably be explained by beliefs, expectations false memories, or illusions.|
|3) The experience is directly related to a significant life event.|
|4) The experience is directly related to an intensive emotional need.|
|5) The experience is directly related to the resolution of an intensive emotional need.|
Note. The rating scale from 1 to 5 is from low to high, where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest, and the average rating is rounded off to one decimal place.
In Table 2 below, I have included my experiential ratings on 19 license plate synchronicities over a two month period of time, that I consider to be unusual enough to warrant inclusion in the table . The ratings correspond to the five numbered statements in Table 1; the four ACTs, three 496's, four ABJs, and two 2958's are labeled as ACT(#1), ACT(#2), ACT(#3), ACT (#4), 496(#1), 496(#2), 496(#3), ABJ(#1), ABJ(#2), ABJ(#3), ABJ(#4), 2958(#1), and 2958(#2). A rating will be listed in parentheses next to a numbered statement followed by a colon; to illustrate, a rating of 4 for Statement #2 will be denoted in the format 2: (4).
|License Plate Symbol||Statement Ratings||Average Rating|
|ACT(#1)||1: (3), 2: (4), 3: (5), 4: (5), 5: (4)||4.2|
|ACT(#2)||1: (4), 2: (4), 3: (5), 4: (5), 5: (5)||4.6|
|ACT(#3)||1: (3), 2: (4), 3: (3), 4: (3), 5: (2)||3.0|
|ACT(#4)||1: (3), 2: (4), 3: (4), 4: (4), 5: (4)||3.8|
|496(#1)||1: (5), 2: (5), 3: (5), 4: (2), 5: (1)||3.6|
|496(#2)||1: (4), 2: (5), 3: (4), 4: (2), 5: (1)||3.2|
|496(#3)||1: (4), 2: (5), 3: (4), 4: (5), 5: (5)||4.6|
|ABJ(#1)||1: (2), 2: (2), 3: (3), 4: (2), 5: (1)||2.0|
|ABJ(#2)||1: (2), 2: (2), 3: (3), 4: (2), 5: (1)||2.0|
|ABJ(#3)||1: (2), 2: (2), 3: (3), 4: (3), 5: (3)||2.6|
|ABJ(#4)||1: (2), 2: (2), 3: (3), 4: (3), 5: (3)||2.6|
|2958(#1)||1: (4), 2: (4), 3: (3), 4: (2), 5: (1)||2.8|
|2958(#2)||1: (3), 2: (4), 3: (3), 4: (5). 5: (3)||3.8|
|ACM||1: (3), 2: (3), 3: (5), 4: (5), 5: (5)||4.2|
|GRAM||1: (3), 2: (3), 3: (5), 4: (5), 5: (5)||4.2|
|469||1: (3), 2: (2), 3: (3), 4: (1), 5: (1)||2.0|
|6496||1: (4), 2: (3), 3: (4), 4: (1), 5: (1)||2.6|
|7496||1: (4), 2: (4), 3: (4), 4: (5), 5: (5)||4.4|
|497||1: (3), 2: (3), 3: (4), 4: (3), 5: (4)||3.4|
|Average License Plate Synchronicity Rating:||3.3|
Now none of this “proves” that something resembling Littlewood's Law of Miracles cannot account for my license plate synchronicity experiences. But according to my mathematical understanding, the probability of my experiences being reasonably explained completely by chance factors is infinitesimally small, and consequently it is astronomically unlikely that the events occurred completely by chance. From a “scientific” perspective it therefore strikes me that the most logical explanation is something “other than chance.” At this point we can now bring in all kinds of alternative explanations, ranging from quantum physics theories to subtle energy fields to God. The Lanes themselves, in their previous Integral World article Mysterium Tremendum , described quantum physics interpretations of various phenomena that I believe could certainly include synchronicity phenomena.
Two Concluding Examples
I would like to conclude this article by giving two more concrete examples of the result of applying probability theory to determine how likely it is to explain certain unusual events completely by chance factors. For my first example, I have recently been corresponding with someone who responded to my License Plate Synchronicity article by sharing with me some of his own synchronicities. His name is Samuel Hunter, and Samuel shared with me the following series of synchronicity events he experienced related to the number “23” (for more information about synchronicities related to “23” see Wikipedia). I will number Samuel's sequence of synchronicities and subsequently give some informal probability estimates. To be conservative, I'll eliminate Samuel's Synchronicity #5 in my probability calculations, since this is closely related to his Synchronicity #4, both signifying the date of 9/23.
Here is Samuel Hunter's “23” synchronicity series:
“About 9 days ago I went to the grocery store with Gisela, who works in my home.
- when I parked, the odometer said 117770 which when added up equals 23--I showed this to Gisela because I could feel this coming...
- as she went to get groceries, I went to Western Union where I had to take a number which was J23.
- I went back to the store and joined her in the checkout line where, when the check-out lady tried to scan the apples and did not know the code...she was told 5558 which when added equals 23.
- when I got home I asked “spirit” why 23??? and as I did, my eyes all on their own glanced down at my PC where I saw the date--Sept. 23rd hahaha.”
- that night my wife (who was in Mendellin) video called me and while we were talking she started to type (and she can barely type). Then her typed message appeared and it said: 9/23/2010 8:47:16PM Cristina Chester recuerda hoy es cumpleaños de Aleja, which means “remember today is Alejandra's (her child) birthday!”
The probabilities I assigned to these events that I consider to be reasonable estimates are as follows: 1) 1/10; 2) 1/100; 3) 1/30; 4) 1/30. Multiplying the probabilities together yields approximately .00000111, which is approximately one in a million—a miracle! Now put this together with the full range of Samuel's experiences with these kind of “23” synchronicities (which he has not yet shared with me), and we quite likely may be back to a description of the kind of astronomically unlikely events to occur by chance that I have described above for the full range of my license plate synchronicities.
Charles Tart (2009)  has used the term “scientism” to describe the “fundamentalist” allegiance to rigid dogmatic narrow-minded beliefs that are dressed up in a scientific language but in actuality are completely the opposite of the true nature of open-minded scientific investigation. From what I understand of the mathematical unlikelihood of chance factors being able to reasonably explain the mysterious events that I have described in this article, I cannot help but wonder if the phenomenon of people clinging to chance factors to explain synchronicity events that are astronomically unlikely to occur by chance, represents science or “scientism.” .
To give one final example of how “unlikely” chance factors may be to completely explain some mysterious events, I will briefly describe the most recent license plate synchronicity that I experienced.
About five weeks ago I was with my MR client and I parked my car in a community college library parking lot and noticed that the license plate of the car opposite me said “Jenny.” Now Jenny happens to be the original name of my mother, who died over 35 years ago. But the intensive phase of my license plate synchronicities was over, and I decided to attribute this to be nothing more than an interesting coincidence. However, I must admit that I felt the goose pimples and I looked further at the remaining letters on the license plate, and they were “Be.” My goose pimples suddenly became quite large, as “Be” are the first two letters of my last name and my mother's last name, and there in front of me was spelled out the first seven letters of my mother's name: “JennyBe”! This deeply struck me in an emotional way as “beyond reasonable explanation” by chance factors.
In my license plate synchronicity evaluation framework from Table 1 above, I would assign the highest ratings of “5” in each of the five categories to this most unusual event.
Lets play a bit with the probability mathematics involved. As I have no reason to think otherwise, I'll make the assumption that each of the seven slots in the license plate could have been assigned any number or letter, which yields a total of 36 to the 7th power possible license plates, which is approximately 78 billion possible license plates. I think we have now entered territory where Littlewood's Law of Miracles no longer applies. In other words, I think there is something going on here that needs to be explained beyond mathematical probability and chance. What exactly this explanation is, I do not know. But I believe that calling it “synchronicity” is both warranted and appropriate.
1) See David Lane and Andrea Diem Lane (2010), Desultory Decussation: Where Littlewood's Law of Miracles Meets Jung's Synchronicity; Integral World website: www.integralworld.net
2) See Elliot Benjamin (2010), License Plate Synchronicity: An Experiential Account and Analysis; Integral World website: www.integralworld.net
3) Sse for example Harry Irwin & Carolyn Watt (2007), Introduction to Parapsychology; London: McFarland; Dean Radin (1997), The Conscious Universe; The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena: New York: HarperEdge; and Stanley Krippner (Editor) (2010), Debating Psychic Experience: Human Potential or Human Illusion?; New York: Praeger.
4) Sse Elliot Benjamin (2006), Integral Mathematics: An AQAL Approach; Integral World website; www.integralworld.net
5) The determination of how reasonable it is for these events to be determined by chance factors is my own subjective evaluation, and other people may think quite differently about this, as is obviously the case with the Lanes.
6) Note that a few of the synchronicities in Table 2 may be considered to be “pseudo-synchronicities,” in particular the 469 and 497, but I have included them to serve as a comparison with the other more bona-fide synchronicities.
7) See David and Andrea Diem Lane (2010), Mysterium Tremendum; Integral World website: www.integralworld.net
8) See Charles Tart (2009), The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together; Oakland, CA: Noetic Books.